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At full capacity, some 10,000 construction workers at the large aluminium plant being built in Mesaieed are using the services of the nearby Qatalum Village, such as electricity, water and catering.

The focus of the aluminium project's management team is on running day-to-day operations efficiently, but not without attention to constant improvement. As with any operation, cutting costs are on top of the agenda.

However, at Qatalum, controlling expenses is accomplished with a keen focus on environmental integrity and in particular the conservation of water.

The water-saving devices came into effect in May, and the total cost of the initiative was approximately $22,000.

In two months of operation, the total realized savings were more than $200,000 due to water-saving devices and treated water reuse, according to figures published on the Qatalum website.

Simple measures

The Qatalum Village has taken steps to install basic water saving devices – flow reducers – at 230 water usage points comprising taps, showers and toilets, together with associated efficient irrigation measures.

The objective is to significantly reduce the usage of scarce and expensive potable water, increase the reuse of treated water for greenery and further reduce the expensive haulage, or removal, of waste water to distant municipal disposal grounds.

Used water at the Qatalum Village is sent to the on-site wastewater treatment facility. The treatment process is comprised of secondary treatment using rotating biological contactors and tertiary treatment using sand filters and disinfection.

The resulting solid sludge cake is dried for future use as a soil enriching additive. The treated water is fit for landscape irrigation, dust control, and earth works construction purposes.

Also, prior to the water-saving initiative, a greening campaign was ongoing at the Qatalum Village with the objective to increase this substantially by planting over 500 new trees and dramatically extending the grassy areas by the use of solely treated water for irrigation.

At present, the Qatalum Village is an expanse of green fields and trees, far larger than any other labor site in Qatar.

Lessons learned for everyone

“We want Qatalum to be a sustainable development, one that benefits us now and leaves room for future generations to benefit from the natural resources available to us,” says Dr. Mufeed Odeh, environment manager for the Qatalum Village, adding: "Water conservation is a step in that right direction."

Money is saved, water consumption is reduced, less water is bought and the cost of haulage is reduced. The ultimate goal is to achieve zero water haulage in which all water, once purchased, is dutifully reused within the area.

Additionally, an even more sustainable outcome is the educational impact of such an initiative.

The residents, most of them coming from developing world communities, will eventually leave Qatalum Village aware of the concept of saving water and the relatively easy means it takes to conserve this precious resource.

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